Producing Cleaner Energy – through More Efficient and Environmentally Sustainable and Flexible Generation.
Electricity produced from cleaner resources such as renewable energy, nuclear power, and fossil-fueled generation with carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) offers the potential to reduce energy systems’ emissions substantially. With technology advances in both utility-scale and distributed generation, the cost of cleaner energy declines substantially. Energy service providers reduce costs and environmental footprint, while operating more flexibly, leading to wider use of electricity as an energy carrier. Renewable energy plays a growing role, and hydrogen potentially emerges to meet some energy needs.
In working across the energy sector, a clear priority is to refine and deepen a common understanding of the opportunities and challenges inherent in each energy resource and system:
- Develop a better understanding of renewable energy integration challenges, and inform policy, regulatory, and business models. Policy, business model, and technical approaches must progress in concert to realize the full benefits of variable renewable production. An integrated portfolio of technologies should be explored for dealing efficiently with daily and seasonal variability. This includes improved use of forecasting, expanded long-distance transmission, diverse storage options, and demand response. Market, regulatory, and communication and controls advances are required to enable and sustain the system’s efficient, reliable operation as variable resources are added. Environmental research is needed to anticipate and address emerging environmental issues associated with these technologies.
- Create advanced renewable technologies. Next-generation renewable technologies that can respond to grid and market conditions more rapidly and reliably are essential to reduce costs further and increase capabilities to operate more efficiently as part of the overall system.
- Demonstrate advanced low-emission fossil technologies and the policies, regulations, and business models needed to support them. Research is essential on advanced power cycles and on carbon capture, storage, and utilization. Support for demonstrations is needed for capture technologies at scale; basic research is needed to examine use of CO2 captured, and regulations are needed to deal with underground storage.
- Support development of new nuclear designs and the policies, market reforms and business models needed to support existing and new nuclear. Advanced reactor designs and government policies are needed that support development of new plants and continued operation of existing plants.
- Explore bioenergy technology options, particularly bioenergy with CCUS. Bioenergy with CCUS is assumed to be deployed widely in most scenarios that achieve the long-term goals of deep carbon reduction, (e.g., the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement). Research must address many questions regarding the production and control technologies and sustainable, large-scale, low- or no-net-emission fuel supplies, including attention to feedstocks and life-cycle emissions accounting.
- Explore the role of hydrogen as a clean carrier of energy and the economic and policy impediments to its development. Research must focus on producing hydrogen cleanly, on business models for developing a hydrogen infrastructure, and on safety.
- Explore flexible operation opportunities for all generation technologies. R&D should be undertaken addressing aspects or features of the technologies above that support variable power generation through fast ramping, advanced inverters, long-term storage, or other technology. An increasingly flexible central station fleet is a key enabler of the Integrated Energy Network.